Graphene ribbons with suspended masses as transducers in ultra-small nanoelectromechanical accelerometers


Nanoelectromechanical system (NEMS) sensors and actuators could be of use in the development of next-generation mobile, wearable and implantable devices. However, these NEMS devices require transducers that are ultra-small, sensitive and can be fabricated at low cost. Here, we show that suspended double-layer graphene ribbons with attached silicon proof masses can be used as combined spring–mass and piezoresistive transducers. The transducers, which are created using processes that are compatible with large-scale semiconductor manufacturing technologies, can yield NEMS accelerometers that occupy at least two orders of magnitude smaller die area than conventional state-of-the-art silicon accelerometers. With our devices, we also extract the Young’s modulus values of double-layer graphene and show that the graphene ribbons have significant built-in stresses.

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Fig. 1: Design and fabrication of graphene ribbons with suspended silicon proof masses.
Fig. 2: Electromechanical characterization of suspended graphene ribbons with attached proof masses.
Fig. 3: Static mechanical characterization of suspended graphene ribbons with attached proof masses.
Fig. 4: Dynamic mechanical characterization of suspended graphene ribbons with attached proof masses.

Data availability

The data that support the plots within this paper and other findings of this study are available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.

Code availability

A high-level description of the FEA model of the devices is available from the corresponding author on reasonable request.


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This work was supported by the European Research Council through the Starting Grant M&M’s (No. 277879) and InteGraDe (307311), the Swedish Research Council (GEMS, 2015-05112), the China Scholarship Council through a scholarship grant, the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research project NanoGraM (BMBF, 03XP0006C) and the German Research Foundation (DFG, LE 2440/1-2). Funding through the European Commission (Graphene Flagship, 785219) is acknowledged. The authors thank C. Aronsson for help with device processing, M. Bergqvist for support with the measurement set-up, M. Fielden for help with AFM indentation experiments and J. Schell for help with LDV experiments. The authors also thank C. Rusu, D. Kolev and P. Johannisson for discussions about LDV characterization.

Author information

X.F., F.N., F.F., A.C.F., A.D.S. and M.C.L. conceived and designed the experiments. A.D.S., S.W., M.Ö. and M.C.L. developed the graphene transfer method. S.S. performed packaging of all devices. F.F. designed the measurement circuits and contributed to acceleration measurements. S.W. carried out the Raman characterization. X.F. fabricated the devices (substrate preparation, graphene transfer and patterning, and proof mass release) and performed the experiments, including device characterization (optical microscopy, SEM imaging, white-light interferometry, AFM tip indentation, LDV measurements and electrical characterization) and acceleration measurements, and wrote the manuscript. F.N. provided guidance in the experiments and manuscript writing. X.F., F.F., H.R., F.N. and M.C.L. analysed the experimental results. X.F., H.R. and F.N. analysed the simulation results. All authors discussed the results and commented on the manuscript.

Correspondence to Xuge Fan or Max C. Lemme or Frank Niklaus.

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Supplementary information

Supplementary Information

Supplementary Sections 1–26.

Supplementary Video 1

FEA simulation results depicting the dominant Z-mode movement of the proof mass of device 1 with resonance frequency of 50.15 kHz.

Supplementary Video 2

LDV measurements showing the resonant Z-mode movement of the proof mass of device 14 with resonance frequency of 24.2 kHz.

Supplementary Video 3

LDV measurement showing the deflection of the proof mass of device 14 at an applied 1 g acceleration and an excitation frequency of 21.688 kHz.

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